Monday, March 19, 2012


I've always had this habit of getting really drawn into different tv series after they've gone off the air, forcing me to DVR any and all episodes that come on regardless of the order and disrupted story arc.  But who's kidding, it's difficult to follow a series in twelve minute chunks between diaper changes, time-outs, and dislodging Buzz Lightyear from the microwave.  So I've made it work through my belated interest in "Sex and the City", "House", "What Not to Wear", and my latest featured program, "Supernanny".

In case you haven't seen the Supernanny work her magic, let me share with you the basic premise of the show.  The Supernanny, Jo Frost, comes to the rescue of families with screaming, aggressive kids that won't eat or sleep just when they are the brink of divorce or spontaneous combustion.  She teaches them about consistency, discipline, and how to construct wire snares using only pipe cleaners.

Okay, so I might have made up that last part.  But with two kids under five, it really would be a helpful skill.  Maybe I'll write a letter.

Once the Supernanny has completed her time with a family, the children are transformed, the parents happier, and the relationships between everyone involved are transformed.

I was sold.

So about two weeks ago, I decided to give it a real try.  We used her timeout technique with detailed steps:

1)  Give a warning.
2)  Take the child to the timeout spot.
3)  At eye level, explain why the child is in timeout.
4)  Set timer and walk away (1 minute per year old).  Don't speak during the timeout.
5)  After time is up, explain again (at eye level) what the timeout was for.
6)  Make them apologize, give hug and kiss.

 I knew that it would be a good change to have specified steps for timeout rather than me shouting, "Go to your room!" and watching Cael huff down the stairs where he would turn on Netflix and watch Mad Men (yes, really) or rearrange the photos in my childhood albums until enough time had passed that I wouldn't notice when reemerged from the basement.

It's a good thing Jo didn't ever mentor our family.  During that first four-minute timeout, Cael single-handedly redefined the rules.

1)  Choose which infraction is most offensive and/or annoying, and warn that repeating it will definitely result in a timeout.
2)  When the crime is committed again within 45 seconds, drag the child to the timeout corner.
3)  Put a vice grip on the child's head to force them to look at you as you remind them of what they've done.
4)  Set timer for 4 minutes and gather up earplugs as you try mightily to ignore the pleas for release.  Meanwhile, all other children in a one mile radius will be drawn to the exiled child like moths to a flame, so it is somewhat successful to bribe them away with the promise of candy.  Know, however, that giving them candy and eventually cutting off the supply will result in you needing to give timeouts to each of those children as well.  Parenting is nothing if not a cycle.
5)  Once the allotted time has passed, remind the children of the atrocities they've committed and pray that your child doesn't laugh about it they way mine does.
6)  Keep them contained in the corner like you're blocking a 7-foot tall basketball player until they give you a heartfelt apology.  Or grab your chest and make a honking sound. 

It's obvious that our first attempts weren't "textbook", or if they were, they were drawn from the pages of a parenting "what NOT to do" book that sits dustily on the shelves of your local library.  But since that first day, we've noticed some really positive changes in our boys.  When we talk, they know we mean business.  When we send them to a timeout, we can monitor what is actually taking place.  And we get to overhear conversations like, "Bloose, I warned you not to be blue, but you stayed blue anyway.  Now you have to sit in a timeout for FOUR minutes."


"I put you in a timeout because you were still blue.  Are you going to keep being blue?  No?  Good.  Now give me a hug and a kiss and tell me you're sorry."

I guess we're doing something right. 

"Now come on, Bloose.  Let's go shoot Graham!"

Does anyone know if "Nanny 911" is still on the air?


  1. LOL...I used to watch Supernanny all the time! Some of my favorite episodes were when she's teach the kids to go to bed and stay in their bed at night....and watching the parents re-put their kids to bed about 1 million times over a 3 hour period until everyone finally passed out haha.

  2. Yes, I know! I love seeing that because, for the most part, bedtime isn't our problem and I can say, "Oh, those parents just don't know what they are doing!" as Cael shoots Graham and breaks a window. It's all relative.


Leave your own "ism". Cael and Graham double-dog dare you.